“Well,” said Aaron. “I suppose we shall meet again.”
“Oh, sure to,” said Lilly, rising from his chair. “We are sure to run across one another.”
“When are you going?” asked Aaron.
“In a few days’ time.”
“Oh, well, I’ll run in and see you before you go, shall I?”
Lilly escorted his guest to the top of the stairs, shook hands, and then returned into his own room, closing the door on himself.
Aaron did not find his friend at home when he called. He took it rather as a slap in the face. But then he knew quite well that Lilly had made a certain call on his, Aaron’s soul: a call which he, Aaron, did not at all intend to obey. If in return the soul-caller chose to shut his street-door in the face of the world-friend—well, let it be quits. He was not sure whether he felt superior to his unworldly enemy or not. He rather thought he did.
MORE PILLAR OF SALT
The opera season ended, Aaron was invited by Cyril Scott to join a group of musical people in a village by the sea. He accepted, and spent a pleasant month. It pleased the young men musically-inclined and bohemian by profession to patronise the flautist, whom they declared marvellous. Bohemians with well-to-do parents, they could already afford to squander a little spasmodic and self-gratifying patronage. And Aaron did not mind being patronised. He had nothing else to do.
But the party broke up early in September. The flautist was detained a few days at a country house, for the amusement of the guests. Then he left for London.
In London he found himself at a loose end. A certain fretful dislike of the patronage of indifferent young men, younger than himself, and a certain distaste for regular work in the orchestra made him look round. He wanted something else. He wanted to disappear again. Qualms and emotions concerning his abandoned family overcame him. The early, delicate autumn affected him. He took a train to the Midlands.
And again, just after dark, he strolled with his little bag across the field which lay at the end of his garden. It had been mown, and the grass was already growing long. He stood and looked at the line of back windows, lighted once more. He smelled the scents of autumn, phlox and moist old vegetation and corn in sheaf. A nostalgia which was half at least revulsion affected him. The place, the home, at once fascinated and revolted him.
Sitting in his shed, he scrutinised his garden carefully, in the starlight. There were two rows of beans, rather disshevelled. Near at hand the marrow plants sprawled from their old bed. He could detect the perfume of a few carnations. He wondered who it was had planted the garden, during his long absence. Anyhow, there it was, planted and fruited and waning into autumn.